Home Android 12 fast fixes for common Android problems

12 fast fixes for common Android problems

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Confession time: I know embarrassingly little about car repair, and I couldn’t fix a misbehaving house appliance if my life depended on it (which, on at least a couple occasions, it almost has). Heck, I can barely hang a piece of wall art without screwing something up along the way. When it comes to Android phones, though, well — I’m practically a modern-day mechanic.

Now, hang on a sec: It isn’t nearly as impressive as it sounds. I don’t have any fancy power tools or even a pair of cool-looking coveralls with my name on ’em (not yet, anyway). I’ve mostly just been using and studying Android for a long time now — since somewhere in the mid-1800s, give or take — and when you pay close enough attention to something for a long enough period, you start to see the same basic patterns popping up time and time again.

The truth is that for as “magical” as they may occasionally appear, our sleek and shiny smartphones are ultimately just appliances. And more often than not, the issues most folks have with their phones are pretty darn consistent. That means whether you’re troubleshooting your own device or trying to come to a struggling co-worker’s rescue, the odds are good that your problem can be addressed without too much trouble.

Consider this your guide — a collection of some of the most common complaints I hear about Android phones and the simplest solutions I suggest in those scenarios. Apply the knowledge to your own ailing device or pass it on to someone else who needs it, and you, too, can experience the joy of feeling like a mobile-tech mechanic (with or without the coveralls).

Android problem #1: Low storage

Ah, yes — the age-old problem of finite space. When you see a phone’s storage starting to run low, just remember this catchy little adage: “Stop hoarding stuff, you unruly digital packrat.” (Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite as catchy as I had hoped.)

In all seriousness, though, most of us really don’t need much stored locally on our smartphones these days — especially on Android, where cloud syncing is simple and automated management is easy. Start by installing the Google Photos app and setting it up to back up all photos and videos as they’re taken. That’ll let you delete the local copies (as well as have a great way to get to all your memories from any device, anytime, even if you lose or break your current Android phone), and that alone is bound to free up tons of room.

Second, install the Files by Google app. It’ll show you all the unnecessary space-takers lurking within your phone’s storage — including those now-redundant local copies of cloud-synced images along with junk files, duplicate files, and other easily eliminated things — and it’ll give you simple one-tap buttons to clear any of that crud away.

JR Raphael/IDG

The Files by Google app identifies areas where you can free up space and gives you a quick ‘n’ easy way to zap unneeded items away.

Finally, if you’re using one of Google’s Pixel phones, look in the Storage section of your system settings and tap the line labeled “Smart Storage.” There, you can configure your phone to automatically remove any redundant copies of already-backed-up photos and videos anytime your storage starts to get low again.

Android problem #2: Subpar stamina

We could talk about Android battery life all day, but the fastest way to make an immediate difference in your phone’s longevity is to adjust your screen settings.

First, turn down the screen’s brightness (either in the Quick Settings panel that comes up when you swipe down twice from the top of your screen or in the Display section of your system settings). The display burns through more power than anything else on your device, and the lower you can comfortably use it, the longer your phone will last with each charge. If your phone is running Android 9 or higher, you can also look for an Adaptive Brightness option that’ll automatically adjust the brightness level for you based on your current environment.

Second, set your “Screen timeout” setting (also in the Display section of your system settings) to as low of a value as you can tolerate. The less time your screen stays on when you aren’t using it, the less unnecessary battery power your phone will burn through.

And third, if you’ve got Android 10 or higher, look in that same area of your system settings for the Dark Theme option. Darker colors tend to consume less power than the bright hues present in most interfaces by default, so switching to the Dark Theme either all the time or even just on a sunset-to-sunrise schedule should extend your phone’s battery a fair bit.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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